Drone warfare finally seems to be catching up with the Indian Generals that there are finally have re-look at the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO) proposed short-range, armed UAV called Archer, based on the earlier Rustom-1 that can be classified in the same class as Turkey’s Bayraktar TB2 that has played a key role in wars in Ukraine and Azerbaijan.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has issued an Expression of Interest (EoI) for the Selection of partners to half a dozen private companies in mid-2021 that will be in charge of assembly and manufacturing of 20 Limited Series production that will be supplied to both the Indian Army and Indian Air Force as part of user trials if it meets certain requirements then more 100 units will be ordered said informed sources close to

In the first lot, 4 Archer SR-UAVs will be developed for the testing of the weapons systems for which DRDO has developed an Air to Surface-based missile that is light enough to be carried on Archer SR-UAV. Each Archer SR-UAV will be able to carry four air-to-surface anti-tank missiles or Laser-Guided Rockets but plans are also to equip it with two air to air missiles based on the MANPAD that DRDO is currently developing to take on other Short or Medium range UAVs.

Rustom-II aka Tapas is also being prepped to be integrated with air-to-surface anti-tank missiles or Laser-Guided Rockets so that it can also be used for ground strikes. The advantage of operating both Archer and Rustam-2 is that both platforms use the same avionics and systems including LRUs and Ground stations that can operate both UAVs with a switch of software that will reduce maintenance and logistics issues for the squadron that will be operating both classes of drones from its base.

The Archer has a 220km range and 12h endurance, while Rustom-II has a 1000km range and 18h endurance both are still facing a minor shortfall in the performance required to meet all that was asked by the Armed forces but with a renewed push to make in India, Armed forces are willing to ignore minor shortfalls till it can meet some of the operational requirements that Armed forces have conveyed cant compromise on.

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